The Wandering Emperor – Kamigawa: Neon Destiny
Date Reviewed: January 31, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.67
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The first Kamigawa block blew people’s minds when they started the early previews. That was the first block with an art style that diverged significantly from the previous “norm” of Western fantasy/graphic art with a Dungeons and Dragons influence. We’re used to that kind of variation now, so Neon Dynasty is not quite so shocking in that sense – but the Wanderer without her hat, and turning out to be an emperor, is getting close to that level.
Three starting loyalty – at most four, counting her +1 activation – is pretty dicey for a planeswalker. It only takes one four-power haste creature to knock them out, and those are a dime a dozen. I hear there are some that are particularly popular right now. Flash is an absolute card-saver, and perhaps a game-changer all around. When you can use her first activation at the most advantageous time for your deck, you not only increase your chances of keeping her around, but might well turn the tide of combat right when your opponent wasn’t expecting it. All of her abilities can do that, too, under the right circumstances.
And if your interests run to format design (cubes and such), she’s a great example of a planeswalker who has an impact on the game, but doesn’t make the entire table tilt towards her. What’s not to like?
Commander [EDH]: 4/5
The long-awaited return to Kamigawa is here, and first on the docket is a familiar face returning from her brief War of the Spark appearance. The Wanderer’s tendency to appear out of nowhere is captured rather nicely in her being able to fire a loyalty ability at instant speed on her entrance…and, rather nicely, one of those modes is an exile effect, her “ultimate”. Hard to call a -2 an “ultimate”, but regardless of if it counts as such, four mana for instant-speed removal that sticks around has room for a lot of trickery and subterfuge.
Beyond that, her ability to turn the battle’s tide in a pinch is actually quite handy, between buffing a creature you already have or making a new one to fend off attackers. None of these immediately expend all of her loyalty, making up for their fairly “pedestrian” effects, but there’s often a lot of value in the sort of value The Wandering Emperor offers.
I think she’ll do a lot of interesting things; she’s not flashy, but she does a lot of effective things for four mana, and once she settles in, she can definitely do a lot of damage. I’m interested in seeing what comes of her, and I feel she’ll have a home in Standard.
Commander [EDH]: 4
Anytime a planeswalker has a mana value of four or less it is always worth a look at and The Wandering Emperor is no exception. Flashing in on your opponent’s turn can instantly provide value for you during combat where all three of the abilities can ruin an opponent’s plan and catch them by surprise. The plus ability will be the most prominent ability in my opinion, anytime you can add +1/+1 counters onto your creatures it is just value towards winning the game. Samurai commanders will want to add this card into their decks, it fits the theme and flavor very well and the other two abilities will only add more strength to your board state. Mono white is strong in constructed as of this writing and now they just got a planeswalker to add to their already strong decks!
Commander [EDH]: 3/5
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